From Sea to Shore: Ethnographic Account of Seafarers' Experience Onboard Merchant Ships

Polina Baum-Talmor

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    Seafarers play a significant role in the global economy, as 90% of the world's goods are delivered by sea; nevertheless, they form a relatively understudied group in society. Hence, I became interested in their lives and decided to research them through an ethnographic study. The research was conducted as part of completing the requirements for Master of Arts degree in Anthropology at the University of Haifa, Israel. This article aims to deliver the process of my research onboard merchant ships in order to exemplify the reality of isolated research field in practice. First, I present several learning outcomes in order to communicate the challenges facing a female researcher in a confined research field. Second, I introduce specific research practicalities, providing background information about the conducted research, followed by a detailed research design, which includes the choice of research topic, process of generating research questions, and establishing theoretical framework. I then describe how I negotiated access to the research field, introducing the exploratory study that enabled me to become accustomed to the unique seafaring lifestyle. Accordingly, I then focus on the exclusive nature of the ship as an isolated and male-dominated field, describing my encounter with this distinctive environment, and present the specific methods of investigation, followed by ethical and methodological reflections and finally findings and conclusions of the research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages15
    JournalSage Research Methods
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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